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Lincoln Covered Bridge Update October 23, 2019

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Lincoln Covered Bridge
Lincoln Covered Bridge West Woodstock, Vermont
Photo by Katy Savage

Repairs to Woodstock’s historic Lincoln Covered Bridge are nearly complete

By Virginia Dean

Work to repair the Lincoln Covered Bridge in West Woodstock is coming along as expected, according to Joseph Poston, senior project manager of Wright Construction of Manchester, New Hampshire.

“We're making good progress and anticipate an early winter opening,” said Poston. "We’ve removed most of the siding and three-quarters of the timber repairs have been completed."

The bridge was damaged last May when a pick-up truck with a long trailer carrying a backhoe tried crossing the wooden structure and ripped out parts of the wood at both entrances including ten collar ties that held the bridge together.

The bridge has been closed to traffic ever since.

Poston said that the siding still needs to be put back on, and the runner planks on either end have to be replaced.

"They’ve worn out over the last 30 years," said Poston.

Last spring, Woodstock police said the backhoe was above the 10-foot height limit when it entered the bridge. The driver, Gavin Ratliff, 23, of Sharon left work and tried crossing the bridge to Route 4 to head home. After he went through, he pulled over and called 911.

At the time, Woodstock Town Manager Phil Swanson said Ratliff would be issued a ticket, points on his driving record and/or fines for the accident. He was also held responsible for the damages.

Poston confirmed the original estimate of nearly $300,000 to fix 10 croft beams, 15 knee braces, 19 verticals and new siding at both entrances.

“We've had to strip the sidings off the bridge in order to disassemble and reassemble the parts," Poston said. "The roof will remain intact and be jacked up in the air about a foot and shored off the road deck. Then, when we repair the verticals, we’ll lower the bridge back down.”

Extra work will include new skylights on the roof that will replace the present panels that were leaking, Poston added.

All costs are being covered by town and driver insurances.

Poston estimated that the work on the bridge will be completed by mid-December. Wright Construction is contracted with the town of Woodstock under the supervision of Highway Superintendent Ken Vandenburg and interim Town Manager Frank Heald.

"There are a number of things that have been fixed but we're on schedule for mid to late December," said Heald.

According to Heald, the town has been responsible for the general oversight of the project.

“We’ve periodically visited the site,” said Heald. "And, we have made and continue to make decisions about the bridge in a collaborative manner. But, generally speaking, we've got a quality contractor there with a quality highway superintendent and anticipate an excellent job at completion."

Until work is finished, residential and non-residential drivers have been able to access the other side of the Ottauquechee River by using the Mill Road Bridge. Other alternatives have included Carlton Hill and Riverside Park Roads to cross the river in order to access Fletcher Hill Road, according to police.

The Lincoln Covered Bridge was built in 1877 by R.W. Pinney of Bridgewater and B.H. Pinney of Woodstock. The 136-foot long single span Pratt Truss, that spans the Ottauquechee River, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 26, 1973.

It is the only known wooden example of a structural system that later became widespread for steel highway and railroad bridges.

Copyright © 2019 The Mountain Times 10/23/2019


Editor's note: Our thanks to the Mountain Times for source information.

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